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September 1, 2019
Vol. 77
No. 1

Research Alert / Putting Out the Welcome Mat

Classroom Management
School Culture
A tip for teachers new and experienced: Never underestimate the power of a good classroom-greeting routine.
In a recent study, five middle school math and science teachers whose classes had high rates of disruptive and off-task behaviors were given training and follow-up support on a specific approach for greeting students at their classroom door. The approach entailed:
  • positively connecting with each student (fist bumps and creative handshakes allowed);
  • providing "pre-corrective statements" to remind students of expected behaviors as they transition to the classroom;
  • privately offering guidance and encouragement to students who struggled with behavior issues the previous day; and
  • praising individual students' actions to reinforce desired behaviors.
After using this approach for two months, the teachers saw significant reductions in disruptive behavior and significant gains in "academic engaged time" in their classes, according to observational data. "In practical terms," the study's authors write, "students in the [positive-greeting] classes evidenced a 20 percent gain in [academic engaged time], which corresponds to an extra 12 minutes of on-task behavior per instructional hour."
The authors describe the positive-greetings strategy as an example of proactive classroom management, a "preventative approach that seeks to boost academic engagement and thereby curtail inappropriate behaviors that inhibit learning." Proactive classroom management has been shown to "enhance classroom climate, foster positive teacher-student relationships, and prevent classroom problem behavior."
Greeting students at the door has the particular benefit of giving them a sense of "connection and belonging"—essential, according to the researchers, since "motivation is often a by-product of social belonging."
Source: Cook, R. C., Fiat, A., Larson, M., et al. (19 February, 2018). Positive greetings at the door: Evaluation of a low-cost, high-yield proactive classroom management strategy. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.

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